These are great questions and while we’re not 100% sure of the context, background and users of your scenarios you're working with, we thought of a few ideas that could be explored further.
1. Offer an imaged based browsing experience
Your table cells could be turned into cards if users are adding images and prefer browsing this way.
Additionally, the following image could be a viable option for when your users require a comparison feature:
What if you have multiple images?
We also thought about how users might incorporate a carousel-like feature to add multiple images to a single cell in the data table or card view.
2. If using an icon inside the cell, which icon would fit best?
For simplicity we can use a simple image icon like the following:
Here are a few links to some great resources for icons:
- Google Fonts
- Font Awesome
- The Noun Project
3. What would be the best way to display images without having thick rows?
Adding a sizing scale, like Gmail's density settings, would allow users to dynamically adjust the size of their images, which is one solution we considered for dealing with the thick rows.
If you're going to let users tailor their experience, you should collect useful data about their preferences so you can improve the default view.
Consider limiting the image sizes. A huge image will cause usability issues for the user. The image might take up their entire screen, which will cause some scrolling issues especially if there is scroll snapping with the data cells.
- How will you handle tall/wide images?
- Will you crop the images?
- Will you add a buffer area to make the size fit correctly?
- Will you consider different aspect ratios of the images?
In summary, hopefully these ideas and questions spark a conversation with your team or within yourself to explore the multitude of factors revolving around your users.
Thanks for reading! I hope it helps! Take care and have a lovely day :)